Real men know how to end a song. They don’t play chicken at the chorus, so why wimp out in the final bars? Real men kill their songs with their bare hands, like babies crying in their cribs far past bed time. Songs are the sons of men—prodigal, oedipal—and they’ll kill their composer daddies unless he kills them first. Real men hit it, then quit it, but they ain’t no quitters.
Real men die as they dream—fabulous.
There are ways around it. You can fade out, nice and gradually, as if passing on in the middle of the night, unconscious of the dying that envelops you. You can fade, and let the attack of life peacefully decay into the black noise of death.
Maybe it doesn’t have to end at all? You can just cross-fade into another incarnation; reborn in endless playlists of birth and death. The friendly voice of the deejay deity will come on the aether and lull you into this or that form. Maybe you could just put yourself on repeat, and forever loop the memories and melodies of your youth.
Songs today rarely need to stand alone anyway. They segue endlessly into the next in a sea of songs, like billions of babies booming each year. There’s plenty of bodies to possess. Let the masses cling to their genres, and live out their plasticine days in easy-listening limbo.
We just wish the good songs never had to end, especially this one, ’cause it’s so good. But the good songs are ending all the time, right when they begin playing, and they wouldn’t even be good without the ending. All sounds return to the silence, as all souls return to the source.
The root of all existence is you, tonic friend and birthnote. Drag over that C4 below and simply observe how all things return to nothing.
The most popular key in pop and pedagogy is the C Major scale. These seven sacred tones relate to the colors of the rainbow. Drag over the C Major Scale below.
The drama of music results from the tension between the tonic and the rest of the key, much like the drama of life results from the interactions between the self and the rest of the world. Musical cadences create the perception that a song has a central tone around which all other tones revolve. Cadences are happening all the time in music, in every measure, everywhere. They are the endless ending of musical phrases, jumping up and falling back onto itself.
There are two main cadences used in popular music. The first is the Plagal cadence, or the “Amen cadence”.
This is how choir boys kill their tunes, not men. The plagal cadence is kinda weak because the tonic never really goes anywhere. The C tone root is found in the cadential chord, and so it doesn’t get to leave home, and return to die. It’s like it kills itself for never leaving home. It’s no “Authentic Cadence”.
Yes, goddamn. That is how real men meet their end. The authentic cadence is the perfect cadence—the killing cadence. It kills itself with its own hands. It’s a painful and satisfying conclusion to this crazy song we call life.
A certain corporate jingle capitalizes on the authentic cadence.
“By Mennen”, the popular 90′s commercial melody, is by far the most insidious jingle ever written. It’s far worse than the NBC chime, which uses the same cadence. They took the most basic phrase of music and set those ridiculous lyrics to it. “♫ Byyyyy ♫ Mennen ♫”
Mennen: It’s not even a palindrome. Some earworms never crawl out of your brain. They can’t be killed as they copy and share themselves when split.
Who knows what Mennen is and what it advertises for? No one remembers. The melody will live on, long after the company it sang for is just a memory.
“By Mennen” harks back to another manly cadence, the memorable “Men – Men – Men” cadence from “Stout Hearted Men”. In the key of F,
Above is the choir version. I don’t know much about endings, but that’s a great way to begin a song.
Now how will we die sweet friends? Die like a dominant? Will we fade out slowly into the night like “Hey Judey Judey Jude”? Or will we hit and quit it, kick it and kill it, like men.
Real men. Like Rachmaninoff.
Of course, they sometimes cry at the coda.